232 LIFE OP several skulls and one complete skeleton.* They parted in solemn silence from this mysterious ceme- tery; it was a fine and cool night, the moon, sur- rounded by coloured rings, stood high in the air, and illuminated the mist which, cloud-like covered the surging river. Innumerable insects radiated a reddish phosphorescent light over the plants, which glowed with living fire. Climbing bignonias, odorous vanillas, and golden banistorias, ornamented the entrance to the cave,—over the dead the summits of the palm trees rustled. The catholic missionary of Sail Fernando had -brought his Indians to the shores of the Guaviare, on a hostile expedition, which was, in reality, a chase of human beings, equally opposed to the laws of religion and humanity, and to those of the Spanish govern- ment. On this unchristian expedition, a mother with three children, of which two were yet infants, were found in an Indian hut. They were occupied in the preparation of Manioke flour; the father was fishing, and could, therefore, not defend his family from the hostile man-hunters and Christian oppressors. The mother endeavoured to escape with her children, but had scarcely reached the savannah when she was overtaken by the man-hunters of the mission., she and her children pinioned and dragged to the shore. The missionary was watching the success of the enterprise from his boat. If the mother had made a violent resistance,, she would have been cut down by the kid- nappers, for everything is permitted in the missions, when they go out "soul catching/' They always prefer to take children and rear them as slaves to the Christians. The mother was brought to San Fernando with her children; they hoped she would not be able to find * Blnmenbach subsequently cast one of these skulls, but the skele- ton was lost In, the before-mentioned shipwreck.